How does the short story "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury relate to modern day life today? What other themes does it make readers think of?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although "All Summer in a Day" is set far in the future on the planet Venus, its message is that children never really change--they still fall into bullying and cruelty toward those who are different. 

The story depicts a day at school for a classroom of nine-year-olds. The children have a teacher and they learn lessons about science, especially the upcoming "summer season," which will last only two hours. They write stories and poems about the assigned topic as extension activities. When they get a chance to play outside, they run around and play games, just like children do in school playgrounds now. So in those ways, their school day is not unlike a school day for American nine-year-olds. 

More sobering, however, is that the way the students on Venus behave is also similar to how children behave nowadays. They have singled out a girl they don't like because she is different from most of the children. She is a newcomer to Venus; she also is pale and shy and doesn't join easily in their games. They taunt her and challenge her views about things that she knows more about than they do. When the teacher leaves them alone for a few minutes, they act out against Margot in a way they couldn't do under their teacher's supervision. They cruelly lock Margot in a closet, teasing her that the sun will not be coming out after all. Then, in their excitement, they forget about her and tell their teacher that they are all present, even though Margot is missing. Only when it is too late do they realize Margot has missed the whole "summer" because of their bullying.

Themes of the story are bullying a weaker child; prejudice against those who look different or are from a different place; and jealousy towards those who are good at school or have superior knowledge in an area. Peer pressure is another theme, for it is the "mob mentality" that takes over when the children lock Margot up. One could think about how it is that children can be so cruel, how they learn to be cruel or whether it comes naturally, and whether children are ever as innocent as they are often portrayed. Selfishness can be another theme, as well as guilt and the inability to turn back the clock to correct a wrong that has been done. 

Ultimately, the story suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same, at least when it comes to the failings of human nature.